"A Single Bullet" Follow-Up
March 13, 2019
The original article can be found here: A Single Bullet
First and foremost, I want to say that the previous article I wrote, “A Single Bullet,” was not intended to attack or offend any students or teachers (or anyone in general really). My reasons for writing “A Single Bullet” were that I felt gun control and gun violence on school campuses was a topic long overdue at Palmer Trinity. From my perspective, we have always danced around the subject, and with everything happening in the last couple of years, including Parkland, it seemed to me like it was time to talk about guns at school.
After my previous article came out, it came to my attention that some teachers felt the school was misrepresented since they had collectively taken many actions to educate themselves on what to do in the event of a school shooting. I was then informed teachers underwent a two-hour training session that described what to do in the event of a serious emergency like a school shooting. Fortunately, as a result of my article, I was able to have a lengthy conversation with Mr. Zamek, one of four associate heads; he is in charge of safety and security, building and grounds, overseeing police officers, maintenance and housekeeping (this includes plans for code red and code yellow). In all honesty, when I wrote “A Single Bullet” I was not aware of the amount of thought and research Mr. Zamek has done to keep us safe at school. He showed me several huge binders filled with instructions on what to do in case an emergency were to happen at school. He has even gone as far as hiring a consultant to come in from the outside and assess what we do in case of a crisis. A company called Witt O’brien’s, LLC, based in Washington D.C., took six months to review our policies and procedures and improve upon what is known as our Crisis Management Plan. The huge binder containing the Crisis Management Plan consists of a base plan along with several other important factors to ensure the safety of those on campus. Every year he says that they reassess the plan to make improvements and adjust accordingly. For example, since Witt O’brien’s assessment, we now have one security guard at each point of entry at the school and one security guard that takes a random route each time throughout the school. This was done to ensure unpredictability from the security, therefore, making it harder for someone to find the “holes” in our security system. The decal system that all student drivers are nagged about getting at the beginning of the school year is actually extremely important for on campus safety. The security guard at the entry points deny access to all cars without permits, and they visually inspect the vehicles even if there is a sticker. For those trying to enter without a decal, there is a scanner that does a level 2 background check which checks for criminal history.
This is just a small part of the protocols in place to keep us safe that Mr. Zamek told me about. It quickly became clear to me that there are a lot of systems in place in order to try and prevent something as horrible as a school shooting.
Yet, I felt that there was still something very vital missing. The students. Although I know that it is statistically unlikely for a school shooting to happen here at Palmer I still feel that we as students should know what to do just in case something were to happen. I was happy to see that we recently had a convocation where a group of officers, part of 81 police officers in Miami Dade that are dedicated to events like school shootings, came to speak with our community. It seemed like a good first step for Palmer Trinity to take in order to prevent something horrible from happening on our campus. But I still feel there is a lot more to do. Talking about issues as serious as this one might seem distant to an average student, yet they are extremely important to talk about and not only can the skills you learn save your life and the lives of others at school but it can save someone at a movie theater, synagogue, church, library, college campus, sporting event, concert, etc. I hope that Palmer continues to take steps in the right direction to educate our student body and staff as to how to protect themselves regardless of the occasion. You never really know when you will need to use what you learn at school.